Trick of the Trade: What’s in my bag for Catsmas sitting?

Trick of the Trade: What’s in my bag for Catsmas sitting?

Christmas cat sitting challenge is on full speed tomorrow, which means I will be on the road from 6am to 6pm or even later. I might have limited access to shops and need to be comfortable for long duration of being outdoor.

Therefore, Catsmas sitting require special packing. I will write another post to show you my normal gear after New Year.

In this picture, you will see (from left to right): 

  • Da Bird toy
  • Tea bags – in case I run into a customer who have no tea at home and the shops are closed
  • Charger – for phone and iPad
  • Book – currently reading Surviving the Twenty-First Century by Chris Patten
  • A pouch full of keys
  • Tools keychain consists of a Fox 40 Micro emergency whistle, a Swiss Army Knife, a mini torch (you can see my review here), a glow in the dark stick, a Leatherman Pocket Tool, and a door pick multitool. These are all trial and tested pet sitter must have! I will do a separate post to show you in details and explain you why I need each of these tools.
  • Hand cream – we wash our hands many times a day and often with cold water in winter because customers tend to turn off the boiler when they are away. I happen to have this one right now but my favourite one is La Roche-Posay Lipikar Xerand Hand Repair Cream (you can read the review here).
  • Filofax – I can’t live with my Filofax. My Filofax is my brain. I wrote about it here.
  • A shopping bag – always handy to have in case we need to buy cat food or cat litter. Crazy enough, customers often forget these things!
  • Roots backpack – best backpack in the world for pet sitter! If they discontinue I don’t know what to do, unless they come up with something better!
  • Food – shops are usually closed, there are some sandwiches, biscuits, cakes and fruits in this bento box.

Not in the picture: 

  • Good rain resistant coat – crucial for winter in Ireland
  • Good pair of water resistant shoes – again, crucial for winter in Ireland! I usually go for Birkenstock or Ecco.
  • Good woollen cardigan – keeps me warm even if I am soak
  • Jeans – doesn’t show dirt if I am dealing with cat vomit or poop
  • Phone – can’t be in the picture as I was using the phone to take this picture
  • Wallet – with money and very importantly a Leapcard with enough money as it might be difficult to find a shop to top up the card over Christmas

I am now all set to go and let’s hope the weather is not too bad tomorrow and that there is no cat emergency!

People don’t realise how much planning we have put into so to do our jobs over Christmas. We usually start planning Catsmas sitting since September!


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Trick of the Trade: always put your foot or handbag to block the door

Trick of the Trade: always put your foot or handbag to block the door

I have opened roughly 250 family doors and entered their home in the past 5 years.

I have never once let a cat escape out the front door.

What’s the tip?

I always put my foot or my handbag to block the door open turning the key.


So to achieve this…


As far as I know, all professional pet sitter around the world do that, because we don’t want this to happen…


Moral of the lesson? Get a professional pet sitter! Never hire an amateur! 

Trick of the Trade: key test

Trick of the Trade: key test

People might not be aware of this but cat sitting is a business that deals with keys a lot.

At times, we are dealing with more than 10 set of keys per week.

I will do a separate post in the future to show you how my system of key management, but just a quick tip for today.

Always do a key test with the presence of the customer. 

That is to ensure the key WORKS!


Customers could get mixed up and give us the wrong key, or the key is a bit tricky and need to learn how to work it.

So we ALWAYS do a key test.

Are you interested to know more trade secret of a cat sitter? Follow my blog to make sure you don’t miss anything. 


Trick of the Trade: always ring the bell before entering (a presumably empty house)

Trick of the Trade: always ring the bell before entering (a presumably empty house)

As a cat sitter, I do pick up a lot of ‘trick of the trade’.

Some of them I learnt from mistakes…(oh yes, I do make mistakes and I don’t want to think about them right now…)

But my mistake is your gain.

Trick of the Trade (TOTT) is a series where I will tell you all about them. Some of them can be useful to your own cat(s), while some of them might be (hopefully) entertaining to you to brighten up your mid-week.



I ALWAYS ring the bell before turning the key to enter a presumably empty house, when I am cat sitting.

Because more than once, I turn the key and someone is still inside the house.

This most often happen on the first day or the last day of a booking.

My customer could have sent in the wrong booking date. Or it could be a case of flying through long haul and forgetting to add one more day to make up the time zone difference, or people realise their flight comes in early in the morning and don’t really need a visit that day.

Or once I have customer who overslept and missed the flight altogether.

So I ALWAYS ring the bell before entering a property.

Plus, if burglary is ongoing inside, the last thing I want is to open the door and we are at a standstill.

I ring the bell, if someone is inside, hopefully they will panic and start making noises or weird light from torches. If I see that, I can leave the scene and call 999.

The only exception is, if the cats inside are very nervous, then I wouldn’t do that in case they are scared. But I will still going ‘hello hello hello?’ once I got into the house. Just to be sure…

Who say cat sitting is all about fluffy purring cats?


Enjoy Trick of the Trade (TTOT)? FOLLOW my blog so you don’t miss any one of them! 

Trick of the Trade: How to give tablets to your cat? (in a reasonably painless manner…)

Trick of the Trade: How to give tablets to your cat? (in a reasonably painless manner…)


I heard you said, after reading the title of this post.

I hear you. Trust me.

In my job, I have to give a lot of tablets to a lot of cats. A LOT.

We usually go with the instruction given by the cat parents, but when in doubt, this always save our day…

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Yes, the Aldi cat sticks treat.

It doesn’t have to be the Aldi brand. Lidl, Tesco, M&S, etc. they all do their own brand. As long as it’s a stick treat, it’s fine. Just that Cat Man and I shop at Aldi.

What you do is this…

Step 1: Take one out (duh!)


Step 2: Break up a little piece


Step 3: Open it up vertically…


Step 4: Put in your tablet in the middle (I can’t demonstration this because I don’t have a tablet handy at the moment…)

Step 5: Close it back


Step 6: Give it to cat and pretend there is nothing in it.

Step 7: Walk away and observe cat from the corner of your eye.

Step 8: Cat eats the treat and lick his lips. You say a little ‘YES!’ discreetly to yourself. You have to be discreet or your cat will be suspicious for next time.

Bonus tips: If stick treats is not your cat’s thing, and your vet said you are allowed to crash the tablet you are giving him/her, try tuna or sardine mixed in. If it still doesn’t work, tuna paste is another option. That’s what they use in commercials to get cats walk a straight line or lick their face, etc. But since it’s very salty, I would not recommend for frequent use. Only in desperate situation, i.e. you are about to pull your hair out, that should you proceed with tuna paste.

Do you have your own trick to give tablets to your cat? If you do, SHARE in the comment below. Together, we might be able to learn from each other and no need to be afraid of the giving tablet anymore! (sort of…)